31 October 2009, 6.07pm, stairwell in a house somewhere in Markham
Visiting from the distant land of Michigan, helpless against the greater forces that required it to miss the festivities at home, this little alien still had such high hopes for trick-or-treating because she was in Canada and they do Halloween, right? Of course, we said, we'll take you out as soon as it's dark.
Alas, most of the houses in the residential Markham neighbourhood we were visiting remained unlit and forbidding with no signs of life. Our alien guest had barely filled a third of her pillowcase with candy after we'd done the rounds.
Dejected, the little voice behind the mask would look around, sigh and lament, "If we were in my subdivision, there would be, like, so many haunted houses."
Or, "If this was my subdivision, the street would be, like, filled with soooo many kids, and most of them would be my friends."
Or, "If we were trick or treating in my subdivision, I'd need, like, two whole pillowcases to hold all the candy. People are really generous there."
And we, her older cousins and chaperones for the evening in our Gypsy scarves and Dumbledore hats, could only mumble in response, "We're so sorry, sweetie."
There was, however, one house giving out candy that made our little alien smile as she tripped down the path towards us with her loot, whispering gleefully, "That house was playing Indian music." (Ha, take that, subdivision of Michigan!)
It was the only bright spot of that trick-or-treating experience. Shivering in the wind, peering down shadowy streets, deciding which direction would be safe, we could only look at each other and wonder, "Who killed Halloween here?"